Sunday, April 29, 2018

Product Review: Amphipod PureRun Minimalist Hydration Vest

The Amphipod PureRun Minimalist Hydration Vest is very versatile and has a plethora of pockets!!!

Disclaimer: I received an Amphipod PureRun Minimalist Hydration Vest as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews.

Have you ever felt on a run like you'd enjoy having a hydration vest that could more securely fit you, have pockets for water bottles on shorter runs and a back pocket for a hydration bladder for a long run, or both for an ultra?  Maybe it could also have several storage pockets, be lightweight and breathe really well even while giving you that great custom fit?  Perhaps it could also do this without totally breaking the bank?

Enter the new Amphipod PureRun Minimalist Hydration Vest.  It has 7 pockets as well as a cinch cord.  Now, 3 of those pockets would traditionally be used for hydration, but they don't have to be.  There are 2 on the front which hold 2 12oz Hydraform Flasks that are ergonomic and have what the company terms Jett-Squeeze caps.  Those caps securely hold fluids and can either be lifted up to drink from with your teeth or hands.

The cavernous pocket for the hydration bladder will hold a up to a 2 liter bladder.

The pocket on the rear of the pack can hold up to a 2 liter hydration bladder.  If you are not using that, it's also a great pocket to leave unzipped and store those extra clothes/layers as you take them off.  For example, during one long run, I decided to take off my gloves and I simply reached behind me and stuffed them down into the pocket without having to take the pack off.  If, however, you were using that pocket for a hydration bladder, there is also a cinch cord on the back to hold extra layers.  

Big enough for a phone or some bars, gels, iPod, etc.  Notice also the hose clip for an optional hydration bladder.
That accounts for the 3 pockets mostly, but not necessarily given over to hydration, but there are 4 more pockets.  The 2 pockets on the front sit above the pockets for the flasks as shown in the picture above this paragraph.  I could snugly fit a phone in one pocket, (a phone in a case nonetheless), and put a couple of bars and gin gins in the other pocket.

Another pocket sits just below the entrance to the hydration bladder slot and another sits on the bottom right hand side.  Both have zippers.  I also received the little smiley face clip on blinking light for late night runs.

The last 2 pockets both have zippers and are on the back of the pack.  One sits just below the zippered pocket where you can insert a hydration pack and goes halfway down the length of the pack.  The other pocket sits just below that and zips up and down as opposed to across, but the pocket spans the width of the back of the pack, probably a good 4 inches or more.

In addition, the pack is lightweight and has "cooling free-flow AirMesh™ construction."  This should work well in the summer when things can get sticky!!!

Notice the cooling mesh system that runs the entire back and chest of the pack.  
In addition to the pack coming in 2 different sizes, each of those sizes has 3 straps across the front and one to each side in order to further customize the fit for every individual.  

Overall, while I haven't had the opportunity to use the pack with a hydration bladder, everything else has been stellar.  The pack is easy to customize the fit, the bottles don't slip out of the front pocket holders, most of the rest of the pockets are all within easy reach.  The one or two that might not be would be for the hydration bladder and the one underneath it.  However, you'd typically take the pack off to refill a hydration bladder and could then get into the other pocket.  This still leaves you 5 other pockets to use for those items you need easy access to during a run.  As I mentioned above also, if you don't use a hydration bladder, the ease of use to simply reach behind you and stash gloves, hat, extra layers down the center of the pack is so convenient.  I love it.  And that's how I feel about the pack as well.  In addition, this pack seems reasonably priced at just $100.  

I also have a quick 1 minute video on my Instagram that you can check out @zbultra, which is also my Twitter.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Product Review: CTM Band

My CTM Band helped loosen up my ankle for a great 10 miler the other day!

Disclaimer: I received a CTM Band as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews.

As many of you know, I am a BibRave Pro and we have many opportunities to try out various pieces of gear.  Recently I received a CTM Band.  The band is a tool that uses  compression, tension, and movement therapy to help "improve flexibility, athletic performance, and reduce muscle pain and soreness."  in particular, the band is helpful in reducing muscle spasms, releasing knots, breaking up scar tissue, increasing range of motion, activating muscles and speeding their recovery.  

The band works on the idea that many tools use compression or tension to help an athlete with the things just noted, but that what needs to be done is to combine compression, tension, and movement to help your muscles achieve myofascial release, (MFR).  Myofascial release (according to wikipedia!) is defined as : "an alternative medicine therapy that claims to treat skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflect in muscles."  

The CTM Band in blue. It comes with 4 detachable attachments to use on various parts of the body.

I first had an MFR massage back in 2015 in Montana as I prepared for the Bangtail Divide 38K outside of Bozeman.  It helped loosen up several areas in my legs, back, and shoulders, and I went back for a second one after the race.  When we moved to Western New York State, I looked for and finally found a massage therapist in the Rochester, NY area that also specializes in this technique.  

The CTM band is probably about 2 inches wide by about 6 feet long, (that's an educated guess, but not exact measurement), and has 4 attachments used to really pinpoint the muscle issues.  These attachments unscrew so that in smaller sections of your body, like an ankle, or the bottom of your foot, you can modify the band and just use 1 or 2 of them.  They look like black golf balls professionally cut in half with something like a rock climbing bolt threaded into them to maintain strength.  

The attachments are easy to unscrew so you can modify the band from 1-4 depending on the area of the body.

Remember, with the CTM Band, movement is key, but you only need to use it on each area of concern for up to 2 minutes!  There are several videos at the website instructing you how tight to make the band, (not too loose, but comfortably painful), and giving you directions on how to use it for a variety of issues from shoulders to elbows, legs to feet.  Check out CTM Videos.

While I have used the CTM Band on just about every section of my leg, I use it almost daily on my lower right calf muscle in order to loosen up the muscle and the pull it has on my ankle.  My ankle has been very tight recently and this along with some work from the band occasionally on my foot for PF, seems to help loosen it up some in order to get it ready to run, especially if I have just woken up or come home from a long day at work on my feet.

Using the band on my legs the night before my recent Sloppy Fools Trail Run.

The CTM Band retails for about $40 and comes in several different colors.  If you use the code "CTMBIBRAVE", you can save 20% off the cost, making it a pretty good deal for a tool that will be an "upgrade" (as the founder notes), over using a foam roller or stick.  Try it out, you may just find it's a great little investment for treating what ails you!!!  Enjoy!!!

Glad to have used the CTM Band before my long run the other day so my ankle could loosen up!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Remember Why You Are Running the Newport Rhode Races---Benefits

Rhode Races Newport logo

As a race draws closer to reality, it's always important to remember why you are running said race.  Many of our BibRave Pros are running the Newport Rhode Race this weekend in Rhode Island.  Now, we all have our individual reasons for running, but oftentimes those things overlap with our fellow runners and friends.  Let's see if we can name 10 as reminders for everyone this weekend:

10.  I like to run.  This should be obvious.  But halfway into the event...remember, this is what you trained for, it's okay to smile!

9.  There's beer at the end of the Rhode!  Ok, that's a pun...but it's also true.  The Rhode Island Brewers Guild will be there with free post race beer to go race pizza!!

8.  My friends/family/spouse/significant other/arch enemy/dead zombie follower are running it.  Cool!  Make sure to smile and have some fun.  Sometimes these events become more than they are as they bond us to one another even more so than just a couple hours beforehand.

7.  I've never run a marathon/half marathon/5K.  That's awesome.  You can do this.  In doing so, you join an awesome group of people from around the world that often treat each other like family.  My Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ followers would make this statement absolutely true!  Meeting some of them in person has certified it!

6.  I've prepped for months for this and I am seeking a PR/PB and/or Boston Qualifier, (BQ).  Now, some of you are saying...what?  Personal Record/Personal Best.  (Lots of people use PB now, but I am old school, I use PR, I think it sounds cooler.)  This winter hasn't been easy, but if you have been training in it, then you have been made more complete, more solid, and tougher.  Go out and get it!

5.  If #6 or #7 is true of you, return to  #9 and let that soak in again...(that's kind of punny too.)

4.  You are running while others are spending the weekend doing their taxes!!!  There's really nothing else to say on this one.

3.  These races support 3 local charities.  Sometimes in my life, it has been running for others that has gotten me out the door and/or to the finish line.  Maybe that's a good one to remember too.  You may be running for someone who cannot right now, but really wishes they could.

2.  If #3, #4, or #5 is true for you, go back to #9 and enjoy another one after the finish line!!!  Woohoo!!!

1.  The number one benefit of running the Newport Rhode Races:  You get to run along the beach, drink beer, eat pizza, and have a good old time!!! So enjoy it!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Top 5 Things Runners Can Look Forward to at the Newport Rhode Races, April 11

View of the Newport Rhode Race coming up this weekend!
BibRave is a partner of this coming weekend's Newport Rhode Races and in preparation here are 5 things runners can look forward to this coming weekend on April 15, 2018:

5) Beach Beauty:  From the pics I have seen, this should be a stunningly beautiful beach course.  Here's a description from the website:

"The first half of the course highlights the best of Newport with craggy shores, wide open ocean vistas, historic mansions and intricate architecture.  After passing Easton’s Beach at the half way point, the full heads out to Middletown past Hanging Rock and Surfer’s End to a challenging course with more gorgeous views.  The race finishes back along the water at Easton’s Beach."

4)  Boston Qualifier:  Yup, you heard that right, this race is a BQ race!  Get after it and get into the big one in New England!!!

3)  Beer @ Friday Night Packet Pick-Up:  The Newport Storm Brewery is the host for packet pick-up on Friday night, a VERY well known local brewery.

2) Beer After the Races w/Pizza from Piezoni's:  The RI Brewer's Guild will be there and there will be GREAT local pizza from Piezoni's!!!

1) BibRave discount saves 10%:  Use code BibRave through April 11, 2018 this week and you can still save!  But hurry, only a limited amount of spots are left!!!

If you are racing the event, go out and enjoy it and the local beauty of New England!!! :)

Sign up here:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

2018 Racing Season: Sloppy Fools 4-Mile Trail Run, Honeoye Falls, NY, March 31

Training for the Sloppy Fools 10 days out could have been cross-country skiing instead of running!

Mid to late March found me over at Mendon Ponds Park doing a prep run for the upcoming Sloppy Fools 4-Mile Trail Run.  When I got there though, the picture above indicates what I ran on for most of my 4-mile trail run that day: hard packed snow.  There were still people cross-country skiing on it as I ran by in my trail shoes!  If I'd known that I might have brought my own skis!

A week later, and all I could imagine as the temps increased and the rain fell just a few days before the race was a muddy quagmire of sodden low points with water that would likely go above my shins!  (Ok, maybe I played out a worst case scenario, but it was definitely a possibility.)  

The picture below however was my view as I drove up yesterday to the Hopkins Point Lodge on the other side of the pond from where I had trained 10 days earlier:

A beautiful morning even if  a bit chilly at the start.  No snow in sight!

Packet pick-up was pretty easy, Dave, who directed the race and also sold me my most recent pair of trail shoes 2 weeks ago, found my bib and handed me some safety pins.  Unfortunately, he explained that the printer he used for the t-shirts and sweatshirts was a failure and everything had to be redone!  Oh well, things like that happen and I'd rather have a quality product later than a piece of trash now.

Even though most, but not quite all, of the snow had melted, it was still pretty chilly outside.  Temps were probably in the 40's with a good bit of wind.  I took a few pictures, got some things around, and then eventually went out for a short warm-up as more and more people started to show up for the event.

Hopkins Point Lodge was a new start point for me in Mendon Ponds Park.

Just before the 11 AM start, (which I appreciated because it allowed the temps and sun to come up and I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn, or worse, before it!) , a friend of mine from work found me and we chatted as the race announcements were given.  

The course was a lollipop configuration, which is normally fine, but today would mean that the main section of mud that we would see in the first quarter mile, we would also see again shortly before the finish line back at the lodge.  

A view near the start of the race before it turns to mud!
Knowing that the first quarter mile had a lot of mud, (since I ran in during my warm-up and had the muddy shoes and wet socks to prove it), and that the course then immediately went uphill, I went out a little faster than normal to get ahead of some of the crowd.  After the downhill, as we turned left and started rolling back uphill on some double-track, Don, my friend, passed me but I kept him in sight.  This was how much of the race would play out as he and I would keep each other in sight, catch-up to one another, talk a little, and then one of us would pull up ahead of the other either due to the trail narrowing/people needing to pass and/or just normal speed changes uphill/downhill/flat.

The course had some sections I had run before on my own and also from last year's A Midsummer Night's Madness Trail Half Marathon, as well as some new stuff I hadn't seen before in Mendon Ponds Park.  I found my climbing legs were up and at it for the race and enjoyed being able to pass others going uphill.  I had gone to my chiropractor the other day to be ready for the race and had also been using a new ankle sleeve post-work to help rest my ankle.  On top of that, I have been testing a new product as a BibRave Pro, called the CTM Band.  The picture below shows my using in on my left quad.  (CTM stands for Compression, Tension, Movement.)  The idea is to add movement to the compression and tension already on the muscle to help break up knots and scar tissue while also helping the muscle activate and speed recovery.

Underneath that band are 4 solid half circles pressing into the leg to help loosen up the muscle.

As we came down into some lower sections and started running across boardwalk, I wondered, since Dave had mentioned we'd be over by it, if we were going to run up the stairs near the Devil's Bathtub.  Yup.  This is a steep section of stairs made into the side of a short but aggressive hill from one of the low spots in this area of eskers.  I ran up the first third and walked the rest and then for a few seconds at the top to let my heart rate stabilize.  This was the only section I walked all race.  Eventually I caught up to Don again, but had to stay behind him as we started going back downhill on a steep narrower section.  It was through here that I noticed I was really dry and cleaning my lungs and throat out a lot.  I stuck another Gin Gin in my mouth which helped some.  These along with my ginger berry Sportland Tea, helped keep my tummy solid during the race.  

After running through a rather squishy open field, I knew we should be getting closer to the finish, but I also knew that Dave had redone the course and sent an e-mail that said the course was now 4ish miles.  I figured 4ish miles could be anything from just a pinch over 4 to several 10ths over 4.  But, I figured if it was closer to 4.5 or above, he'd have said 4.5.  I might have been wrong on that last part...  Anyway, Don caught back up to me, and as we got closer to home, and another section of mud before the last main section of mud, (and both saw at separate times a runner hacking on the side of the trail), he took off and put about 30 seconds into me at the finish.  I powered through that last section of mud and as I turned the corner out of it to run uphill to the finish, I gave a quick glance back to see how close the next runner was and did my best to keep them at bay.  I finished in 47:36 for 4.55 miles and 40th place out of 118 racers.  Not bad for my first race of the year.  

After a couple of s'mores, (not the easiest post-race food to put together after a race, very sticky and tricky!), I set out to re-hydrate with my Nuun Orange & Mango Orange that I had also used pre-race on the way to Honeoye Falls for the race.  Don and I hung out for a few minutes talking about our weekend plans, listening to age group winners and raffle winners being announced before heading our separate ways.  

Don and Brad, (L to R), post-Sloppy Fools 4-Mile Trail Run.

Having not raced since December, I was eagerly anticipating this race and wondering how my body and legs would respond.  I must say I was very happy with the results.  Under 10:30/mile pace on these trails with some cool temps, mud, and hills, I felt very good.  Praise God for an awesome race.  What a beautiful day as well.  I really enjoyed getting to run with Don and he definitely helped me set a good pace.  I think we encouraged each other on without really realizing we were doing it.  Thanks again also to NuunSportland TeaBibRave, and the Ginger People.  Thanks also to Dave and Maggie from Medved, where I am proud to be part of the Medved Endurance Project.

Happy Easter! Go out and enjoy God's beautiful Creation!!!

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